Your Questions Answered

Questions and answers regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Short answers to questions you might have about the virus and its impact on your life.

What can I do to help?

Follow the expert advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms and social-distance now – this is vital and will save lives. Good hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation are critical in the fight to slow the risk of infections – both for yourself and importantly for others – particularly those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant.

Volunteer to help. There are now thousands of voluntary groups being run via Facebook and other social media sites. To join the national volunteer effort you can sign up here.

Where can I get the latest government information on coronavirus?

If you want access to all government advice on coronavirus you’ll find it here   .

What can the police do if I don’t follow the advice to stay at home?

If you do not comply the police may:

  • instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
  • issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
  • issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

When should I self-isolate?

  • If you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough
  • You must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone
  • You must all self-isolate for 14 days if you live with others (if someone gets symptoms during isolation all householders must remain symptom-free for 7 days even if that means isolating for more than 14 days)

Self-isolation will save lives – it’s important you follow the guidance if you’re affected.- more information can be found here 

Why should you self-isolate?

  • Self-isolation is the safest way to stop spread of the infection.
  • People in the most vulnerable groups should consider self-isolating even if they don’t have symptoms.
  • Self-isolation saves lives – and while 90% of people will recover from this virus – some will get seriously ill and some will die – it is these people we need to protect.

Do I need to call NHS 111 to self-isolate.

No – but if your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service . If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999. 

How can I get a coronavirus sick note?

Online isolation and sick notes have been introduced to help employees prove they have to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Isolation notes are available to people who can not work for more than seven days, including those who are not showing symptoms but live with someone who does. Get your isolation note here 

How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of water (fluids)
  • Eat healthly food
  • To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
  • Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online

I’m OK can I go to the theatre, the cinema, the pub, a restaurant, clubs …

The short answer is no – the following venues are closed and you are instructed to stay at home other than in particular exceptions.

  • pubs, cinemas and theatres.
  • all retail stores selling non-essential goods – such as – clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding permanent residents, key workers and those providing emergency accommodation, for example for the homeless.

At all times you must maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 metres) away from other people to reduce your risk of infection and reduce the number of deaths.

For further information see here.

Why aren’t more people being tested?

As at the 25th of March over 97,019 tests had been completed. Testing is being prioritised for certain groups – by focusing our testing on the most vulnerable we help relieve pressure on the NHS and save more lives. As at the 24th March, the UK has purchased 3.5 million antibody tests for deployment over the coming weeks.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

When you’re doing normal day-to-day activities face masks will do little to protect you from viruses. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding social contact by keeping 6 feet (2 metres) away from others.

Healthcare professionals may wear special masks if they’re spending hours each day looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask to protect others.

Can I get a refund on my train ticket?

Advance tickets will be refunded free of charge. Season ticket holders will be refunded time unused with no administrative charges. Contact the organisation from which you purchased your ticket for details.

What financial support can I get?

The Government have introduced significant measures to protect the financial resilience of individual and businesses and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. The following two organisations provide updated and detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service  is easy to follow and filled with good advice about Government initiatives, sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
  • The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us  are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.

Can I claim sick pay?

Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home? 

Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by the virus.

What if I have a ‘zero hours’ contract?

You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance and if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit  or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 

What if I’m self-employed?

You can apply for Universal Credit   – where self-employed people can access full statutory sick pay equivalent.

What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?

If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit   –  the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.

I’m worried about paying my tax – is there any help?

Yes – there are 2000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline  for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8 am-8 pm, Saturday 8 am-4 pm – 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:

  • agreeing on an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest

Self-assessment tax payments are deferred until January 2021.

How much can I put on a contactless bank card?

To help manage through the coronavirus the limit has been increased to £45.00 from April the 1st.

What can I do about getting an MOT?

MOTs are suspended for lorries, buses and trailers for up to three months. The Government has announced that cars, motorbikes and vans will be given an MOT exemption from the 30th March 2020. But you must still keep your car roadworthy and in a good condition.

Can I get up-to-date news about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Yes, sign up here   (check your junk mail for the confirmation email).

Can I still shop online and is it safe?

Yes. Online sites, postal and delivery services will run as usual to ensure people can access essential goods. You won’t have to sign for goods and they should be delivered to your home leaving a safe distance.

Can I take my pet to the vet?

Vets are open but practices have been asked to provide emergency services only and face-to-face contact should be limited. So only use the vet for urgent or emergency medical care.

My partner doesn’t live with me can I visit them?

No. From the 23rd March, government instructions advise not. You should not be meeting friends or even family who do not live in your home, unless you are providing essential care for your partner, friend or family or vice versa and even then you should maintain social distancing.

Should I use hand sanitiser gel or soap and water?

You should wash your hands with soap and water for at last 20 seconds regularly but particularly when you return home. If you’re out and about and cannot get access to soap and water cleaning your hands thoroughly with hand sanitiser gel can be effective against the virus.

Can I move house?

Following advice from the Law Society, buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place. If you are self-isolating, or in a more at risk group it’s more important for you to delay. If moving is unavoidable because you’re contracted to do so and the other parties aren’t able to agree on a delay, you must follow advice on social distancing throughout your move.

What is available to workers who have been told by the Government that they are vulnerable and need to shield for 12 weeks?

Employers are encouraged to do the right thing. The Government’s Jobs Retention Scheme means that employers should be able to furlough employees who are subject to social shielding, though the employee may need to agree to it first, depending on the nature of their contract. Employers are also unrestricted in their ability to hire new staff, including on a temporary basis to provide cover for furloughed workers that are subjected to social shielding. Some of the 1.5m people shielding will already receive support through the welfare system (e.g. disability benefits, UC (if of working age), pension credit).

Last updated 4th March

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